The White House declined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request on Tuesday to meet U.S. President Barack Obama during a UN conference in New York at the end of the month.
An official in Jerusalem said that the prime minister’s office sent the White House a message stating that although Netanyahu will spend only two and a half days on U.S. soil, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel to the U.S. capital specifically for that purpose. The official added that the White House rejected the request and said that at this time Obama’s schedule does not allow for a meeting.
The White House’s response marks a new low in relations between Netanyahu and Obama, underscored by the fact that this is the first time Netanyahu will visit the U.S. as prime minister without meeting the president.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly tried smoothing things over, but Bibi is having none of it.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday.
“Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” he said.
Relations between the US and Israel have been strained during the entire Obama term. Obama’s call for Israel to retreat to its 1967 borders was widely seen as a slap to our ally. Obama’s support for ousting the late Hosni Mubarak from the Egyptian presidency paved the way for what now looks like an Islamist takeover in Cairo, endangering the longstanding peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
President Obama also has not visited Israel during his presidency. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited Israel in July 2012.
Update: President Obama may not have time to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel, but today he had time to meet with some other notable figures.
President Obama continues reaching out to non-traditional media to spread the campaign word, appearing this morning on 106.7 FM with DJ Laz AKA “the pimp with the limp,” who tweeted that he was getting “REAL Answers from @BarackObama.”